Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Going back to my rpg roots

Going back to my rpg roots
I started refereeing in 1984 with the first edition of Das Schwarze Auge (English: The Dark Eye), the most successful German rpg. Back in the days, DSA was a fascinating blend of traditional Germanic folklore, sci-fi and sword & sorcery.
This was – and still is – so uniquely German, players called it "Hotzenplotz game" (from Otfried Preußler's stories about the Robber Hotzenplotz).
In 2011, I wrote my first "retroclone" of DSA and called it Das Auge (The Eye).
Now, 8 years later, I'm returning to this game, the game that got me hooked for roleplaying forever. I'm writing a new version of it.
This is what the cover looks like. Yep, drew it myself, and yes, I know it shows. But I love it 


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My thoughts on Sword Dream

So, some OSR players left the OSR to found their presumably holier-than-thou new version of "adventure gaming". More open-minded, more welcoming to everyone and their dog, more inclusive, simply: so much more better and politically correct than that old scumbag, OSR. So much better. I mean, so, so much better.

"Sword Dream" is the name of that latest joke. Doesn't it sound like a mid-80s softcore porn flick featuring big haired ladies, and gentlemen with exuberant chest hair? Cue the 80s Casio soundtrack.

(In short: Leave your FUCKING politics out of the hobby, you geniuses.)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Walking-around Warhammer

I think it was Jeff Rients who called the set of D&D rules a DM could remember and was actively using at the table, "walking-around D&D". Walking-around D&D is what's left after you finish reading the rule book; it's the core of your personalized D&D.
I am inclined to call my version of Warhammer frp "walking-around Warhammer", even though that's not quite correct. I need almost nothing that's presented in my Warhammer FRP 1e book: careers, age, race, maybe, maybe skills, and info on the world. Everything else, all the rules and tables and stuff, everything else had to go.
In the first edition rulebook, preciously little information is given on the cities of the world, for instance. And Gods of Chaos? Oh my! A half page, and a reference to the "forthcoming Realms of Chaos supplement".
But in all honesty: When I'm GMing, I might look up the rough description of a city, or general info on a country. Tops. What I need at the table is the executive summary of the Warhammer world, not the Encyclopedia Britannica of Warhammer.
And rules? Ha, RULES?
Well, we're using Risus to play Warhammer right now. Go figure. And I'm fairly certain that within a few sessions of play, I'll be switching back to Sword&Backpack because all we need to know is one thing: Is what the character does successful? Everything else is creativity-in-action.
Maybe it's okay to call it "walking-around Warhammer", after all.



Friday, May 31, 2019

Using Risus characters in Bloodstone

This post really is just an exercise in flexing my writing muscle, so feel free to ignore it :)

Recently, I posted about playing Warhammer with Risus rules. It works beautifully, it's quick smooth. It will also change during play because that's just what happens when I'm refereeing games. With this in mind, let's try a Risus Warhammer character with Bloodstone.

Durand Sixtus
Human Male, age 30, 6', 250 lbs, lots of hair, grey eyes, huge
Soldier (4 – skills: Disarm, Dodge Blow, Battle Tongue, Street Fight)
Tough as nails (3)
Equipment: Battlehammer, knife, chainmail, helmet, 6 Gold Crowns

Please note that the skills mentioned for the Soldier cliché are just there to give the player an idea of what Durand is capable of doing with this cliché.

Now, let's take a look at the Bloodstone character creation:

Title: Durand Sixtus, human male soldier
Huge, lots of hair, grey eyes
Bio: not yet
Good Stuff: soldier, tough as nails
Equipment: battlehammer, knife, chainmail, helmet, 6 Gold Crowns
Hit Points: N.A. (or, for groups who need them, 5)

As you can see, it's almost a one-to-one translation. That was to be expected.






Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Warhammer – with Risus

Yesterday, we started a Warhammer campaign. This is the first Warhammer game in 30 years for me, and I'm proud to say: It was great!
I've written a Risus version for Warhammer. Take a look at the rules: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1meswkWwteiiHrlRWFDb9_yYFkq1rLKUyPpD5DhfiEYY/edit?usp=sharing
The game went smoothly. Especially because the dreaded Risus death spiral is somewhat softened by the High Die rule. One of the characters is a former Gambler, and by pure luck defeated a footpad in a dark alley of Nuln. Pretty cool.
Why did I switch to Risus?
For several reasons, really.
First, I know that Risus works really well once you soften or neutralize the death spiral and remove math from the rules. The High Die rule does that very efficiently. I don't have to add dice together, I just look for the highest die (and, in case of a tie, the next highest, and so on). This is really fast.

Second, whenever I try new rpg stuff, the first thing I do in my head is convert things to Risus clichés. It's that language-first approach that I like so much. Rather than having to think about how many hp and what stats a creature has, I just have to describe it in normal language and slap one number on that description ("Blood-dripping Thorn Monster (4)", "Shifty-eyed Merchant of Illegal Goods (3)"). No stat block, just one cliché.
Describing things and creatures as clichés forces me to think about what I really want them to look like. See, you can have a full D&D stat block and still not know anything relevant about a monster. In my opinion and experience, that's not the case with a good Risus cliché.
Pros and cons of Risus Warhammer
Pro: Simplest and easiest character and npc generation because you're using natural language
Pro: I LOVE mass or group combat with Risus. Just roll all cliché dice of one party against all cliché dice of the other party. Heaps and heaps of dice. I like that.
Pro: No bookkeeping during combat. You get hit, you lose a die (or more, in case of a crit). Simple as that.
Pro: The power of a character in any certain area is immediately visible (tangible, even) because of the "better cliché = more dice" thing Risus has. This helps me as DM to gauge situations better.
Pro: Even if I don't have a clue about a location because the player characters decide to explore places I haven't prepared, Risus is there for me: I simply slap a cliché on a room, for instance: "Dark, warm and moist cell with pulsating walls (4)" not only tells me the look and feel, but also how many cliché dice monsters living there will have.
Con: If you're a sucker for damage dice or armor classes, Risus is not for you. Sure, exceptional weapons and armor may grant you more cliché dice, but for some folks, this doesn't cut it.
But that's the only con I can come up with, really.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Free Kriegsspiel: Bloodstone Redux



A while ago, I posted my "Bloodstone" rules. Today, I'm presenting the Bloodstone Redux rules. What are these? They are what's left of the Bloodstone rules when we're playing them. Bloodstone Redux is, in a way, the best practices of Bloodstone. Let's start. Comments are in orange.


Character Creation, how we actually, really play it
  1. Title (name, career/class/race – either come up with that stuff by yourself, or use your favorite  game rules)
  2. Three-detail Description
  3. Five-detail Bio (personal details, alignment, god(s), etc.)
  4. Good Stuff: all the things that are advantageous to you (skills, stats, talents, special equipment)
  5. Bad Stuff: all the things that are disadvantageous to you
  6. Hit Points (also called "hits"; three strikes and you're out, give or take a few if you're exceptionally fragile or tough)(Monsters may be able to take anywhere between 1 and A LOT of hits; I'd recommend notable monsters to be about as durable as player characters – don't worry about this point too much, there are still entire groups running their games without hit points, simply by using rough estimates or the Rule of Fun: "Is it fun for everyone at the table?")

Procedures of Play
  1. Trying Something Risky (Skilled) : referee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6, usually 7+
  2. Trying Something Risky (Unskilled) : referee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6, usually 9+
  3. Saving Throwreferee tells you what number (or more) to roll on 2d6
  4. Luck Roll: d6, high = good, low = bad
  5. Using dice specified by the referee, Roll either equal to, lower or higher than a number the referee tells you, 
  6. OR try to roll as high or as low as possible (referee tells you).

Fights
Opponents roll 2d6 against each other. Add +1 to +3 for Good Things, and subtract 1 to 3 for Bad Things. For instance, an "agile" tax collector with "saber-fencing" skill would add +2 to the roll, while a "ridiculously weak" rat-catcher would subtract 2 points.

Simple mnemonic: you add or subtract as many points as the skill or attribute has words to describe it – so, "longsword" adds 1 point, "very quick" adds 2 points, "terrible constitution" subtracts 2 points, "fucking weak clown" subtracts 3, and so on.


The side with the higher sum hits. Ties mean both sides hit each other simultaneously. A combatant with zero Hit Points left dies.


Weapon damage is 1 for small, 2 or more for big weapons. If you roll doubles, damage doubles, as well.

Fights work exactly like other Procedures of Play, described above,
OR: roll dice against each other, higher result hits.

And this leaves us with exactly the way we've been freeforming/free kriegsspieling for years: Play worlds, not rules. Read all about our take on the earliest forms of roleplaying in the following posts:

Play worlds, not rules, part 1: Juggling ideas for stone-age rpg sessions
Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience levels
Play worlds, not rules, part 3: Playing around with dice
Play worlds, not rules, part 4: Short example of true Blackmoor gaming
Play worlds, not rules, part 5: How we roll




Monday, April 29, 2019

Promotion time!

minimald6 is my "proto-D&D" game, a flexible framework using a couple of d6. If you like Bloodstone, you'll probably love minimald6. No math required.

The reviews on drivethru are few, but very positive: